Multisolving at the Intersection of Health and Climate

By Stephanie McCauley and Elizabeth Sawin, Climate Interactive. Summary excerpt from their report.

By leveraging cross-sectoral collaboration, it is possible to design and implement projects that improve local health, produce financial savings, and advance long-term climate goals all at once. These “multisolving” initiatives deliver improvements in multiple sectors with the same investment of time, money, or political will, thus saving money, meeting multiple needs, and empowering diverse constituencies.

Although these projects are very appealing in theory, several obstacles prevent them from being implemented with greater frequency: disciplinary, budgetary, and judicial silos, lack of community engagement skills and funding, and focus on short-term vs. long-term costs and benefits. Despite the obstacles, multisolving projects can be found all over the world, at scales ranging from individual hospitals to entire cities.

To learn what is possible when addressing climate and health together and to document the strategies and approaches that enable multisolving, we conducted a global scan of examples of multisolving for climate and health. We selected 10 cases for further study (see table below). A few examples include:

  • A Japanese company, Kyocera, pioneered the use of climbing plants to create “green curtains” that insulate and shade office buildings, provide food for the cafeterias, and sequester carbon emissions. The practice has spread to 27 Kyocera facilities and 80 percent of cities across Japan. The company also gives out seedlings and instruction books so neighbors can grow their own green curtains.
  • The city of Bogotá, Colombia shuts down 75 miles of highway every Sunday and holiday (more than 70 days/year) to create recreational space for bikers, runners, skaters and dog walkers. Among other goals, the project was meant to promote healthy habits, and reduce obesity, noise pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. “Ciclovía Bogotá” has been replicated in Mexico, Brazil, and Peru.
  • The Barcelona-based social enterprise, Espigoladors, collects fruits and vegetables discarded because of imperfections or oversupply and donates them to organizations fighting hunger. Espigoladors employs workers “at risk of socio-economic exclusion” and enables them to take home food, too. Their slogan, “I’m imperfect, too,” encourages citizens to give second chances to the “imperfect” in society. The program reduces food waste, hunger, greenhouse gas emissions, and water use, and it creates jobs and promotes healthy eating.


With a multisolving approach to addressing health and climate challenges, people are designing the communities that they want to live in while at the same time preventing and preparing for climate change. For many of the projects, the system-wide benefits exceeded the costs. And the projects tended to create benefits, from more children walking to school, to a better patient experience, to increased opportunities for recreation, that were appreciated in the organizations and communities where the projects happened.

The study also identified success factors and a core set of strategies applied by multisolving projects regardless of sector, scale, or geography to help others who would like to see more multisolving initiatives in the world.

For more information, please download the full report.

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